By Toni Hamlin

Has deciding between a kid-free and a kid-friendly wedding become a dilemma you just don’t want to face?  No matter which side of the fence you’re leaning on, this is always a tough and delicate decision to make. Whatever the choice, it’s important to decide firmly at the beginning of your planning because there is a lot to contemplate.

Remember, this is your wedding and your decision!  If you’re leaning toward a kid-friendly wedding, there are a few things you can do to make sure everyone enjoys the event.

The Invitation

Your invitation should speak clarity into what can be a cloudy situation. Instead of the word family, the names of the children in the house should appear beneath the names of the parents on the inner envelope. Not including the names will indicate that children are not invited.

If you have decided that you are open to children being at the ceremony but not at the reception, it’s best not to include them on the invitation at all.  Let your guests know by way of a note inserted in the invitation that children are invited to the ceremony.  You can also indicate here whether or not there is a separate area for children at the reception where a childcare service will entertain and take care of them. A less formal form of communication that includes details about the service should follow the invitation.

Childcare Services

Providing childcare services during your wedding and your reception can be a lifesaver for parents.  When looking for a childcare provider, it’s best to go with a professional service.  These caregivers are insured and have experience working with children. They will also come with all of the materials to entertain them so you don’t have to!

The Timing

When my husband and I were married, we opted to have a brunch wedding.  This choice was strictly about the cost; however, this is also a great option for kid-friendly weddings. Having a morning or afternoon wedding creates the optimal situation for children.  They tend to be less fussy during these hours.

The Setting

Not all venues are child-friendly.  Make sure your venue can accommodate the children before booking.  The best venues include an outdoor space, a room where children can play, and smaller rooms where they can nap.

The Main Event

Most couples want to enjoy their special day without hearing the cries of their youngest guests. One way to prevent this is to provide each child with a Survival Kit.  These kits are designed to occupy the kiddos throughout the wedding.  Kits should include quiet and healthy food as well as activities like coloring books and miniature puzzles.

Offering a quiet room out of earshot of the wedding where childcare providers can care for the children when their Survival Kit is not enough is extremely helpful.  Ushers should be strategic in the seating of guests with children by having them sit in locations that allow for an easy exit.

kid-friendly weddings
Julie J. Photography

The Reception

Creating a kid-friendly atmosphere at your reception is easy!  The key is to make sure you keep them in mind when you are planning the activities and the food.

We recommend that older children between eleven and fourteen have a separate table and those under the age of eleven have a separate room. This will decrease the separation anxiety of the younger kids and give the older kids a sense of independence.

The best part about feeding children at your wedding is the cost.  The charge for a kid’s plates is a lot less than an adult plate. Because children can be a little picky, it’s smart to have a kid size buffet and food stations so they can select the dishes that appeal to them. Having a pasta station or ice cream bar is always a big hit.  Stick to foods that are guaranteed to put a smile on their faces and keep them occupied while the parents are enjoying the party.

Making the decision to invite children to your wedding is a decision that you should be happy with for years to come. Following these tips will help you have the experience you have dreamed of with all of the people you love.

Toni Hamlin is the CEO of Multiple Me, a special events childcare agency in the Richmond area. Our main goal is to help solve childcare challenges for clients who live active lives.  To learn more, please visit www.multipleme.com.

Featured image: Hayes & Fisk